We all know that education technology can be a fantastic and rich resource that transforms the experience of classroom learning. We know that it opens the door to infinite new learning possibilities and lesson variations; that it enables hitherto un-dreamed of connections between teachers and students across the globe. But there are circumstances in which education technology can actually take away from the learning experience: here are 5 pitfalls teachers should avoid when using EdTech in the classroom.
1. Don’t use technology for the sake of it
Much as it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon and stuff every lesson chock-full of technology, internet resources and interactive games, it is actually likely to be much more exciting and productive if you use education technology in small, concentrated doses. Students can become bored and distracted if every lesson presents a new technological opportunity, but are likely to be stimulated and engaged by carefully chosen resources that are properly integrated into their learning curve.
2. Make it relevant
Technology should complement, not distract from, the syllabus and specific topics students are studying. Sticking an interactive quiz on frog body parts at the end of a lesson on the animal respiratory system just because you found it online and it sort of overlaps is not the best use of tech. A great way to avoid this pitfall is to find a fantastic online resource (like Froguts) and then plan your lesson around it to make sure the technology becomes fully integrated within and relevant to the lesson.
3. Don’t be let down by technology!
If you are planning to use a computer lab or a particular device in a lesson, check the machines are all in working order and the internet (if you will be using it) is running smoothly before bringing the students in – trying to fix technical problems or get back online whilst controlling a fidgety class is a non-starter!
4. Guard against distractions
One of the major challenges of education technology right from the very beginning has been making sure that students remain focused on the task (and the web page) at hand, and don’t get distracted browsing the internet or quickly checking Facebook. There are several different ways to achieve this, from technical solutions (as described here in the comment by David Tuck on restricting internet browsing in school settings) to vigilant teacher supervision. But another great way to keep students concentrating on the task in hand when using education technology is to set team targets or time limits to encourage focused engagement with the resources.
5. Be wary of cyber bullying
Education technology can often involve using social media sites or other forms of online communication to interact and engage with students, whether this means tweeting or blogging to school sites from home or connecting with other peer groups around the world using Skype Classroom and similar resources. These are fantastic ways to expand the boundaries of the classroom, but it is vital to be wary that when you open up communication to the outside world you also risk inviting unwanted communication in. Know It All from Childnet offers great free resources for primary and secondary schools on keeping the internet safe and secure for school education technology use. However, having a session in which you talk through the potential dangers of internet usage, describe warning signs and emphasise the importance of speaking up if in any doubt is also a great way to prepare your class and ensure they are well educated about the risks of the internet both in and outside the classroom.
What is your number one pitfall when it comes to using technology in the classroom?And what do you do to make sure the pitfall does not become a problem? Let us know below!